Sustainable buildings in New Zealand honoured

Tuesday, 19 May, 2009

Two groundbreaking sustainable buildings are among outstanding projects honoured in the New Zealand Institute of Architects 2009 New Zealand Architecture Awards.

The Selwyn District Council Buildings and Wellington’s Meridian Building were the winners of the Sustainable Architecture category.

Sixteen other projects are also recognised in the country’s premier competition for design and architecture.

A maximum of three New Zealand Architecture Awards can be presented across 10 categories.

The winning projects will now be considered for the New Zealand Architecture Medal, to be announced in May. Only one Medal may be awarded each year.

Gerald Parsonson, of Parsonson Architects, convenor of the awards jury, said the national judging process had sparked positive discussion about the importance of architects in urban design.

“As part of the process we met with some senior council managers,” he said. “There was a lot of discussion about how we can energise cities and towns.

“Many European councils employ architects to work extensively in this area. This is something we would like to see more widely in New Zealand as many cities and towns face the question of how they can create and sustain really effective working communities.”

Selwyn District Council buildings

Athfield Architects Ltd, which designed the Selwyn District Council buildings, was the standout practice in the competition with wins in five categories.

The council buildings carried off honours in both Sustainable Architecture and Public Architecture and were praised for the way they welcome and engage the community.

Sustainable principles are applied throughout, including the use of natural lighting and heating and cooling techniques, solar water towers and distinctive stone cladding, which ensures warmth in winter and cool in summer.

Mr Parsonson said: “The single-storey buildings have been broken into different areas around the idea of a central street, so the public can wander through.

“Every separate piece has its own area of garden and sunlight. There is good natural light and ventilation and every space has wonderful connections to the outdoors.”

Meridian Building

The Meridian Building in Wellington by Studio Pacific Architecture in association with Peddle Thorp Architects was a winner in Sustainable Architecture.

The building, New Zealand’s first Five Star Green Star certified building, was praised by Mr Parsonson for the excellent light, ventilation and heating solutions and as “a really comfortable place for people to work”.

Judges evaluated entries against criteria including the relationship of a building to its site and context, design quality, building form, structure and spatial qualities. User satisfaction and environmental aspects were also taken into account.

The main consideration for the judges in assessing projects is how well a project resolves key design issues and then builds on this solution to “contribute to the advancement of architecture”.

The New Zealand Architecture Awards were established by the NZIA to celebrate the innovation, creativity and excellence of projects nationwide.

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